Pittsburgh vs. Michigan State Peach Bowl Best Bets and Odds Analysis

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Payton Thorne #10 of the Michigan State Spartans. Emilee Chinn/Getty Images/AFP

No. 13 Pittsburgh of the ACC will take on No. 11 Michigan State hailing from the Big Ten in a Peach Bowl battle on Thursday, December 30th. Let’s analyze this neutral-site matchup and keep cashing our college football picks

Pittsburgh Panthers vs. Michigan State Spartans

Thursday, December 30, 2021 – 7:00 PM EST at Mercedes-Benz Stadium

The Pittsburgh Panthers haven’t faltered often this season but on the two occasions in which they did, it was against much weaker opponents. In Pittsburgh’s first loss of the season, they welcomed a middling Western Michigan team to Heinz Field after annihilating U Mass, 51-7, and then traveled to Tennessee where they notched a 41-34 win over the Volunteers. Entering their matchup against the Broncos, the college football odds at all of the best online sportsbooks had them installed as 14 to 14 ½ point home chalk. 

Western Michigan was in it from the opening kickoff as they jumped in front, 14-7, at the end of the first quarter and saw the lead seesaw between the two throughout the entire game. The Broncos ultimately came away with a 44-41 upset but Panthers’ quarterback, Kenny Pickett, was outstanding in throwing six touchdown strikes and amassing 382 yards through the air. He also carried the rock nine times for 57 yards. 

But Pittsburgh would rebound from that setback and win their next four by double-digits, including a 27-17 win over Clemson, before underestimating another foe, this time it was the Miami Hurricanes. The Panthers were installed as 9 ½ point home favorites and lost another nail-biter when they bowed, 38-34, despite a whopping 519 passing yards and three touchdowns by Pickett.  

In essence, a total of seven points kept Pittsburgh from raising their profile to the national championship level. We saw that a perfect record from a non-Power 5 conference got Cincinnati into the CFP so it stands to reason that an unblemished record from an ACC team would have done the same.  

But Pittsburgh will never know as they ended with an ACC title courtesy of a 45-21 win over Wake Forest, yet, the two losses on their record precluded them from being included in the College Football Playoff conversation. When the curtain closed on their 2021 regular season, they stood with an 11-2 straight-up mark and covered in 10 of their 13 contests.  

Spartans Close With a Victory 

Michigan State had won their first eight games, with the last being a colossal 37-33 victory over their archrivals from Michigan, and they were now the No. 3 team in the nation with a College Football Playoff date in their sights. But a date on the road against a gritty Big Ten rival, Purdue, proved to be their undoing. The Spartans would lose that game, 40-29, then defeat Maryland the following week, only to get demolished by Ohio State two weeks later by the score of 56-7.  

Any thoughts Michigan State had of a national championship went straight out the window in their humiliating loss to the Buckeyes. However, a bit of self-respect was salvaged in their regular-season finale when they pulled a mild upset of Penn State in a 30-27 victory. The Spartans ended their 2021 campaign with a 10-2 mark and were 8-2-2 against the number.  

Wanna Make a Bet? 

Bowl games are intriguing because you get to see matchups that you wouldn’t ordinarily see when two evenly matched teams from different conferences get to go toe-to-toe. And such is the case here where Pittsburgh checks in with the sixth-ranked passing attack, averaging 350.2 yards per game, against what should be an overwhelmed MSU pass defense, ranked 130th and allowing 338 yards. 

However, the only problem with that mismatch is that the Panthers’ prolific passer, Kenny Pickett, is skipping the game to prepare for the NFL Draft where he is expected to be plucked as one of the top five overall picks. Pittsburgh will also be without their offensive coordinator, Mark Whipple, who will take over the OC reins in Nebraska next season. So much for team spirit.  

Junior quarterback, Nick Patti, is supposed to take over for Pickett, but Patti has a grand total of 14 passing attempts this season. However, we should note that on the Spartans’ side of the ball, running back Kenneth Walker III who led his team with 1636 rushing yards and 18 touchdowns will also take a pass to prepare for the draft. But his absence won’t be nearly as devastating as Pickett’s. 

In a game between two evenly matched squads, we see Pittsburgh’s power base effectively removed which gives Michigan State a big leg up in this one. 

NCAAF Pick: Michigan State -2 ½ (-108) with Heritage Sports (visit our Heritage Sports Review)

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Michigan State -2 ½ (-108)
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*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.